The Corner

Tonight

I found Biden’s conduct appalling. A high-school sophomore who did that in debate class would get dismissed. But it was effective at least in controlling the agenda and keeping Ryan from getting much rhetorical elbow room the first hour. There must have been a deft one-liner there somewhere that would have completely exposed and deflated him. You saw how uncomfortable Biden was when Ryan said he must be under a lot of pressure after President Obama’s debate performance — Biden unloosed one of the least sincere fits of uproarious laughter I have ever seen. Ryan also had to deal with Martha Raddatz’s constant interrupting. Someone will undoubtedly tally it up, but it felt like she pressed Ryan more than Biden. She seemed to consider her role that of a Supreme Court justice who gets to break in at any time. I prefer a moderator who realizes debates aren’t about the moderator. Ryan had a particularly strong last half-an-hour. His answer on abortion was pitch-perfect and moving. Right near the end, he had a riff on the president’s broken promises that I’m sure he wished he had had a chance to bring up at the beginning. He also didn’t get much of an opening to talk about the Romney/Ryan five-point plan. But I’m guessing he struck people as earnest, knowledgeable, and likable. Biden surely fired up Democrats by acting like an MSNBC host for most of the debate, but I can’t see uncommitted voters finding his antics very appealing and they will surely dominate the post-debate coverage the next 24 hours.

Rich Lowry is the editor of National Review. He can be reached via email: comments.lowry@nationalreview.com. 

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